Remembering Where I Was, When.
It is one of those, “Do you remember where you were, when?” moments.
This bunch of college hockey players, all kids, coached by legend Herb Brooks were not supposed to beat the Russian pros, who had won the last four Olympic Gold Medals, but that Friday night, 35 years ago, in Lake Placid, New York, something wonderful happened.
I was living in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I had moved there in November of 1979 from Grand Forks where I’d been living since I left Fargo after a separation and divorce. I went to St. Cloud, where I had my sister Joni was living, and would use their house to crash in until I found work. I was unemployed, pretty well broke, and was really not knowing what my future would look like. I did find work, selling cars at St. Cloud Dodge, during the day, and tending bar, part time at the Sunwood Inn, at the motel’s lounge which served it’s large dining room as well.
I wasn’t working that Friday night in February 1980, but went to the lounge at the Sunwood to watch the hockey game with friends I worked with. St. Cloud is a good hockey town, and having spent years in Grand Forks, both in college and working there, I was a confirmed hockey fan.
When I saw that this weekend they were celebrating in Lake Placid the 35th anniversary of what came to be called “The Miracle on Ice,” I was taken back immediately to that night so many years ago.
The lounge was a small place, not a sports bar by any stretch, with but one or two TV sets in the place.
That night as the game wore on, and during the third period, the drinks started coming faster, we knew we were watching something special, and the noise level rose to approximate that in a regular sports bar.
As word spread throughout the dining room and motel about how close the game was, the lounge began to fill up, and when the American lads, who weren’t even supposed to be there, brought the Russians down, the place erupted. There were cheers, high fives, hugs and smiles and more celebratory toasts to the “kids” who beat the mighty Russians to advance to the Gold Medal game.
The game against Finland for the Gold was almost anti-climactic. The USA won the Gold, and a permanent place in Winter Olympics and sports history.
That night remains a crystal clear memory for me, and I think I remember “where I was when” because of the intense pride and joy felt by everyone in that small lounge that night.
As we sat there that night in the afterglow of that moment, we were all a little closer, and though I have no idea where Becky, Mike, Karla or others may even be today, I think of them and remember that night when we all were so proud of our American boys.